Time to update your Gallium3D

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 6, 2014 - 10:34 AM |
Tagged: radeon, Gallium3D, catalyst 14.6 Beta, linux, ubuntu 14.04

The new Gallium3D is up against the open source Catalyst 14.6 Beta, running under Ubuntu 14.04 and both the 3.14 and 3.16 Linux kernels, giving Phoronix quite a bit of testing to do.  They have numerous cards in their test ranging from an HD 6770 to an R9 290 though unfortunately there are no Gallium3D results for the R9 290 as it will not function until the release of the Linux 3.17 kernel.  Overall the gap is closing, the 14.6 Beta still remains the best performer but the open source alternative is quickly closing the gap.

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"After last week running new Nouveau vs. NVIDIA proprietary Linux graphics benchmarks, here's the results when putting AMD's hardware on the test bench and running both their latest open and closed-source drivers. Up today are the results of using the latest Radeon Gallium3D graphics code and Linux kernel against the latest beta of the binary-only Catalyst driver."

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Source: Phoronix

Rumor: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880 Is Actually September?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 3, 2014 - 01:59 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, maxwell, gtx 880

Just recently, we posted a story that claimed NVIDIA was preparing to launch high-end Maxwell in the October/November time frame. Apparently, that was generous. The graphics company is said to announce their GeForce GTX 880 in mid-September, with availability coming later in the month. It is expected to be based on the GM204 architecture (which previous rumors claim is 28nm).

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It is expected that the GeForce GTX 880 will be available with 4GB of video memory, with an 8GB version possible at some point. As someone who runs multiple (five) monitors, I can tell you that 2GB is not enough for someone of my use case. Windows 7 says the same. It kicks me out of applications to tell me that it does not have enough video memory. This would be enough reason for me to get more GPU memory.

We still do not know how many CUDA cores will be present in the GM204 chip, or if the GeForce GTX 880 will have all of them enabled (but I would be surprised if it didn't). Without any way to derive its theoretical performance, we cannot compare it against the GTX 780 or 780Ti. It could be significantly faster, it could be marginally faster, or it could be somewhere between.

But we will probably find out within two months.

Source: Videocardz

If you build it, they still might not come

Subject: General Tech | August 1, 2014 - 10:48 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, Windows 8.1, market share

More bad news for Microsoft as their newest OS continues to lose market share to the previous version.  This month sees the total share drop slightly to 12.48% while Windows 7 grew a similar amount and now represents 51.22% of the market. The recently deceased WinXP holds a 24.82% share, also much to Microsoft's dismay.  As for Apple and Linux, they hold 6.64% and 1.68% respectively.  The numbers that The Inquirer posted came from Net Applications and are comprised of all unique visitors to our network sites; they track browser and OS shares as well as other data points via this methodology.

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"MICROSOFT HAS REASON to cringe again this month as the July figures from Net Applications reveal that there has been a further drop in the use of Windows 8.x"

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Source: The Inquirer

That's right! It's time for another Fragging Frogs VLAN Party!

Subject: General Tech | July 31, 2014 - 03:38 PM |
Tagged: VLAN party, kick ass, gaming, fragging frogs

Saturday August the 9th you should stock up on snacks and beverages as the seventh Virtual LAN Party kicks of at 10AM EDT and goes until the last member drops!  WarSam can't make it but we are putting pressure on amd_Roy to show up so you can take potshots at one of your favourite vendors.  Once again the prizes will be bountiful but this time they are a secret so if you even want to know what is being given away, let alone win anything you are going to have to show up!  Not only that but you must registered at the PCPer forums and post to this thread to confirm your attendance; we run a very strict pond after all. 

The thread also contains the list of suggested games, the IP addresses of servers, a link on how to connect to the (upgraded) PCPer TeamSpeak server and most especially the names of those people you should thank for putting in the massive amounts of effort required to put these events together.  See you there!

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Podcast #311 - AMD FreeSync, NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet, Crucial M550 SSD and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 31, 2014 - 10:49 AM |
Tagged: podcast, video, nvidia, shield tablet, amd, freesync, crucial, M550, mx100, Oculus, DK2, logitech g402, evga, TORQ X10

PC Perspective Podcast #311 - 07/31/2014

Join us this week as we discuss AMD FreeSync, NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet, Crucial M550 SSD and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:32:53

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

You can develop Seattle today, for a price

Subject: General Tech | July 31, 2014 - 10:41 AM |
Tagged: amd, seattle, developer, arm, opteron a1100, Cortex A57

AMD has been teasing us with Seattle, their first ARM based CPU which Josh described back in May after AMD's presentation.  The AMD Opteron A1100 series will come in 4 and 8 core versions with each core being a Cortex A57 that has up to 4MB of shared L2 and 8MB of shared L3 cache, support for DDR3 or DDR4, 8 lanes of PCIe 3.0, up to 8 SATA3 ports and two 10Gb Ethernet ports.  The newly announced Dev Kit will ship with a 4 core version and it can be yours for a mere $3000 if your application is accepted by AMD.  It will be very interesting to see how these are integrated into existing server rooms and applications though it is a pity we will have to wait for HSA support.  Check out more at The Inquirer.

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"AMD HAS RELEASED a developer kit for its AMD Opteron A1100 server processor series that features the first 64-bit ARM-based chips codenamed "Seattle"."

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Source: The Inquirer

Podcast Listeners and Viewers: Win an EVGA Hadron Air Case and X10 Torq Mouse!

Subject: General Tech | July 30, 2014 - 05:54 PM |
Tagged: TORQ X10, podcast, hadron air, giveaway, evga, contest

A big THANK YOU goes to our friends at EVGA for hooking us up with a couple of hardware items to give away for our podcast listeners and viewers this week. First, if you watch tonight's LIVE recording of Podcast #311 (10pm ET / 7pm PT at http://pcper.com/live) you'll be able to win an EVGA Torq X10 mouse! (See our review of the mouse here.)

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For everyone that can't make the live version of the show, you'll have a week to enter to win an EVGA Hadron Air Mini ITX Case! (See our review of the case here.)

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How do you enter? Well, on the live stream contest for the Torq X10, just watch the live stream and you'll know exactly what to do. For the Hadron Air case though, just fill out the form on this news post (form will be enabled AFTER tonight's recording) and you'll be entered. I will announce the winner during next week's episode of the PC Perspective Podcast!

We'll draw a random winner next week, anyone can enter from anywhere in the world - we'll cover the shipping. Good luck, and once again, thanks goes out to EVGA for supplying the prizes!

If you haven't checked out EVGA's 15th Anniversary Event with more than $70,000 in prizes, do yourself a favor and do so now!!

Make your own backlighting

Subject: General Tech | July 30, 2014 - 04:07 PM |
Tagged: dvorak, led backlight, DIY

You have refined taste when it comes to keyboards and have exacting qualifications as to the models you want but have now developed a taste for LED backlighting.  The models you find acceptable don't incorporate LEDs or do so in a way you find distasteful.  There is a solution but it is one that will take a long time to pull off.  MAKE:Blog has linked to a project which will take a lot of soldering and more than a little effort but if you want the coolest Dvorak or Sinclair ZX keyboard on the block it might just be worth it.

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"Regardless of the hesitation to recommend this project, the final result is quite nice. The final keyboard layout is a Dvorak simplified keyboard, and the wiring is hidden under the keys."

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Source: MAKE:Blog

AMD Releases FreeSync Information as a FAQ

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Displays | July 29, 2014 - 06:02 PM |
Tagged: vesa, nvidia, g-sync, freesync, DisplayPort, amd

Dynamic refresh rates have two main purposes: save power by only forcing the monitor to refresh when a new frame is available, and increase animation smoothness by synchronizing to draw rates (rather than "catching the next bus" at 16.67ms, on the 16.67ms, for 60 Hz monitors). Mobile devices prefer the former, while PC gamers are interested in the latter.

Obviously, the video camera nullifies the effect.

NVIDIA was first to make this public with G-Sync. AMD responded with FreeSync, starting with a proposal that was later ratified by VESA as DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync. AMD, then, took up "Project FreeSync" as an AMD "hardware/software solution" to make use of DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync in a way that benefits PC gamers.

Today's news is that AMD has just released an FAQ which explains the standard much more thoroughly than they have in the past. For instance, it clarifies the distinction between DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync and Project FreeSync. Prior to the FAQ, I thought that FreeSync became DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync, and that was that. Now, it is sounding a bit more proprietary, just built upon an open, VESA standard.

If interested, check out the FAQ at AMD's website.

Source: AMD

NVIDIA 340.52 Drivers Are Now Available

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | July 29, 2014 - 05:27 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, geforce, graphics drivers, shield tablet, shield

Alongside the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet launch, the company has released their GeForce 340.52 drivers. This version allows compatible devices to use GameStream and it, also, is optimized for Metro: Redux and Final Fantasy XIV (China).

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The driver supports GeForce 8-series graphics cards, and later. As a reminder, for GPUs that are not based on the Fermi architecture (or later), 340.xx will be your last driver version. NVIDIA does intend to provided extended support for 340.xx (and earlier) drivers until April 1st, 2016. But, when Fermi, Kepler, and Maxwell move on to 343.xx, Tesla and earlier will not. That said, most of the content of this driver is aimed at Kepler and later. Either way, the driver itself is available for those pre-Fermi cards.

I should also mention that a user of Anandtech's forums noted the removal of Miracast from NVIDIA documentation. NVIDIA has yet to comment, although it is still very short notice, at this point.

Source: NVIDIA

HGST Announces 12 Gbps SAS, Enterprise SSDs

Subject: General Tech, Storage | July 29, 2014 - 04:24 PM |
Tagged:

You might remember Allyn say that Samsung's 850 Pro is the closest to total saturation of SATA 6Gbps. The other option that we have seen is the bunch of SSDs that are attached to a PCI Express bus. HGST, formerly Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, has just SAS'd back (that was a terrible pun... which I refuse to apologize for) with a Serial Attached SCSI 12 Gbps model (pdf link). They claim a maximum read throughput of 1100 MB/s, with 64K chunks, and 130,000 IOPS, with 4K random accesses.

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The drives will be based on Intel 20nm enterprise-grade NAND with two bits per memory cell (MLC). Its durability is rated at 25 full driver writes per day for 5 years. Models will range from 100GB, all the way up to 1600GB (1.6TB).

While I am limited to Google Translate, there does not appear to be any price or availability information provided. They are enterprise drives, however, so I expect it to be above typical consumer drives.

Watch_Dogs Patched to Optimize Performance and Fix Bugs

Subject: General Tech | July 29, 2014 - 03:55 PM |
Tagged: ubisoft, watch_dogs, watch dogs, pc gaming

Today, Ubisoft has issued a patch for Watch_Dog that fixes bugs and performance issues. Mainly, it is designed to reduce stuttering with higher levels of texture quality, especially "High Textures". "Ultra Textures" could still have problems for "some players", but Ubisoft suggests that future updates to reduce stutter are in progress.

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Without knowing much about the internal workings of the patch, I expect that it addresses hiccups when swapping textures. Loading textures into memory can take a significant amount of time, and overhead, but it is necessary if the one you need is not in there. As the size of each individual texture increases, fewer can be stored in the same memory space, leading to more swapping required (especially when it is difficult to tell what a user can see at any given point in time). Ubisoft might have found a more efficient organization (for lack of a better word that I can think of) for textures that allow "High Textures" to stay below their target memory footprint, but not "Ultra Textures", at least not frequently enough to call it fixed.

Of course, I could be entirely wrong.

This patch also addresses bugs with multiple network adapters, crashes, and error messages. According to Ubisoft forums, it is available now. It is not yet on their news blog, though.

Source: Ubisoft

Nixeus' MODA Mechanical Keyboard keeps it simple

Subject: General Tech | July 29, 2014 - 12:29 PM |
Tagged: input, Nixeus, MODA, mechanical keyboard, Kailh, brown

Nixeus is not a household name by any means but they could heat up competition in the mechanical keyboard market as a new player using relatively new Kailh Brown switches.  Like many ten-keyless gaming boards it has extra blue key caps to make your board more interesting, gold plated USB connectors, a 1000Hz Poll Rate and 6 Key Roll-over.  The Kailh Brown switches are clones of Cherry MX Brown switches and felt almost the same when Legit Reviews tested them.  The keyboard is similar to many already on the market but should appeal to those who prefer simplicity over media buttons and LEDs.

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"Founded in California of 2009, Nixeus is still a bit of a newcomer to the PC hardware industry looking to build up a bigger name in the world of monitors and peripherals. Their aggressively priced 1440p monitors which carry the same LG panels found in the iMac displays have been their mainstay for much of that time, but recently Nixeus is expanding to the PC gaming market including the Moda mechanical keyboard being reviewed here on Legit Reviews. Read on to see how this keyboard performs!"

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Oculus Rift Dev Kit 2 is starting to arrive, more pixels and less screen door

Subject: General Tech | July 28, 2014 - 11:37 AM |
Tagged: oculus rift, DK2, oled, kick ass

The two top improvements in the second Oculus rift are aimed to reduce the screen door effect by changing the display to a full 1080p OLED screen and the inclusion of Valve's low persistence of vision feature to reduce the image smearing that DK1 users reported.  There is a brand new way of tracking your heads position in 3D with the DK2, a camera tracks the motion of hidden onboard IR LEDs to track translational movement in addition to the rotational tracking existent on the DK1.  You will need 2 free USB ports and it connects to an HDMI or DVI port on your GPU, wireless video streaming is still a hurdle for many applications let alone the Oculus Rift.  Check out the comments on Slashdot and follow the link for a full preview.

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"The hotly anticipated Oculus Rift DK2 has begun arriving at doorsteps. The DK2s enhancements include optical positional tracking and a higher resolution panel, up from 1280×800 to 1920×1080 (1080p) and moved to a pentile-matrix OLED panel for display duties. This means higher levels of resolvable detail and a much reduced screen door effect."

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Source: Slashdot

Raptr Update Available (for Both NVIDIA and AMD GPUs)

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | July 28, 2014 - 06:00 AM |
Tagged: raptr, pc game streaming

Raptr seems to be gaining in popularity. Total playtime recorded by the online service was up 15% month-over-month, from May to June. The software is made up of a few features that are designed to make the lives of PC gamers easier and better, ranging from optimizing game settings to recording gameplay. If you have used a recent version of GeForce Experience, then you probably have a good idea of what Raptr does.

raptr_game_settings_example_balanced.jpg

Today, Raptr has announced a new, major update. The version's headlining feature is hardware accelerated video recording, and streaming, for both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs. Raptr claims that their method leads to basically no performance lost, regardless of which GPU vendor is used. Up to 20 minutes of previous gameplay can be recorded after it happened and video of unlimited length can be streamed on demand.

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Notice the recording overlay in the top left.

The other, major feature of this version is enhanced sharing of said videos. They can be uploaded to Raptr.com and shared to Facebook and Twitter, complete with hashtags (#BecauseYolo?)

If interested, check out Raptr at their website.

Source: Raptr

Every Commie64 game on an SD card is retrotacular

Subject: General Tech | July 25, 2014 - 10:31 AM |
Tagged: commodore 64, gaming, arduino nano, Tapuino

Over at Hack a Day is a link to a project which will warm the hearts of old gamers everywhere, a tape reader emulator for the C64.  Built using a Arduino Nano V3 with an added SD card reader and with a rather low level of difficulty to build there is now a way to relive your misspent youth assuming you still have a working C64 on display somewhere.  The total build will cost less than $20 making this great for folks looking to get into programming Arduino and building their own electronics.  Check it out here.

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"One of the machines that didn’t make it into his collection until recently was a Commodore 64 with Datasette and 1541 drive. With no tapes and a 1541 disk drive that required significant restoration, he looked at other devices to load programs onto his C64."

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Source: Hack a Day

NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet Available for Pre-order on Amazon

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 24, 2014 - 07:04 PM |
Tagged: shield tablet, shield, nvidia

Just a small note to continue with our SHIELD Tablet coverage. It turns out that the $299 (16GB) SHIELD Tablet, its cover, and its wireless controller are all available for pre-order on Amazon. The unit will actually be available on July 29th, but we were not aware that pre-orders would be possible until now.

nvidia-shield-tablet-front.jpg

While Ryan wrote a preview for the SHIELD Tablet, he is not giving a final word until he gets it into his lab and is capable of giving a full review. Also, we do not know how many units will be available. Whether you should pre-order, or wait for Ryan's final word, is up to you.

Thanks to our fans for alerting us of this availabilty in the IRC during TWiCH.

Source: Amazon

Rumor: NVIDIA GeForce 800-Series Is 28nm in Oct/Nov.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | July 24, 2014 - 04:32 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, gtx 880

Many of our readers were hoping to drop one (or more) Maxwell-based GPUs in their system for use with their 4K monitors, 3D, or whatever else they need performance for. That has not happened, nor do we even know, for sure, when it will. The latest rumors claim that the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870 and 880 desktop GPUs will arrive in October or November. More interesting, it is expected to be based on GM204 at the current, 28nm process.

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The recent GPU roadmap, as of GTC 2014

NVIDIA has not commented on the delay, at least that I know of, but we can tell something is up from their significantly different roadmap. We can also make a fairly confident guess, by paying attention to the industry as a whole. TSMC has been struggling to keep up with 28nm production, having increased wait times by six extra weeks in May, according to Digitimes, and whatever 20nm capacity they had was reportedly gobbled up by Apple until just recently. At around the same time, NVIDIA inserted Pascal between Maxwell and Volta with 3D memory, NVLink, and some unified memory architecture (which I don't believe they yet elaborated on).

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The previous roadmap. (Source: Anandtech)

And, if this rumor is true, Maxwell was pushed from 20nm to a wholly 28nm architecture. It was originally supposed to be host of unified virtual memory, not Pascal. If I had to make a safe guess, I would assume that NVIDIA needed to redesign their chip to 28nm and, especially with the extra delays at TSMC, cannot get the volume they need until Autumn.

Lastly, going by the launch of the 750ti, Maxwell will basically be a cleaned-up Kepler architecture. Its compute units were shifted into power-of-two partitions, reducing die area for scheduling logic (and so forth). NVIDIA has been known to stash a few features into each generation, sometimes revealing them well after retail availability, so that is not to say that Maxwell will be "a more efficient Kepler".

I expect its fundamental architecture should be pretty close, though.

Source: KitGuru

I Guess Battlefield Isn't Annualized - Hardline Delayed to 2015

Subject: General Tech | July 24, 2014 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: battlefield, battlefield hardline

Yeah, I will admit it, the title is a joke. EA can annualize Battlefield as much as they like (as long as quality does not drop). The point is that Battlefield: Hardline has been delayed until early 2015. It is only a few extra months, which haters can still it to be a yearly release schedule, but it will not be under your tree, at least not this year.

battlefield-hardline.jpg

Apparently, release dates are not hard lines...

DICE (not Visceral??) made the announcement on their Battlefield blog. Three areas will be worked on with the free time: Multiplayer "Innovation", Single Player Story "Depth", and Stability. I could remember a time, prior to ubiquitous internet access, that "stability" was a certification requirement, not a stretch goal. That was also a time that some platform owners could push you out of their first-party release windows to increase their own sales. I guess, give and take?

Battlefield: Hardline is now set for a launch in early 2015. That should be one less distraction from your Grand Theft Auto V PC experience.

Source: Battlefield

The new netbook?

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 24, 2014 - 11:32 AM |
Tagged: Intel, microsoft, netbook, Bay Trail

According to DigiTimes we may see a resurgence of netbooks, this time powered by Bay Trail which will make them far more usable than the original generation.  There are three postulated tiers, the $200-250 range of 10.1-15.6" models and $250-400 or $400-600 in 11.6-17.3" which will make them larger in size than the original generation which failed to attract many consumers.  They are currently scheduled to ship with Bay Trail-M with future models likely to have Braswell inside in a mix of transformer style 2 in 1's with touchscreens and more traditional laptop designs.  You can expect to see a maximum thickness of 25mm and a mix of HDD and SSD storage on these and we can only hope that the estimated pricing is more accurate than the pricing on Ultrabooks turned out to be.

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"For the US$199-249 notebooks, Intel and Microsoft's specification preferences are 10.1- to 15.6-inch clamshell non-touchscreen models using Intel's Bay Trail-M series processors or upcoming Braswell-based processors, which are set to release in the second quarter of 2015."

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Source: DigiTimes